LONDON, March 1 (Reuters) - Dyson, the British company that reinvented the vacuum, said it made record earnings of 801 million pounds ($1.10 billion) last year after Asian consumers bought more of its battery-powered technology to clean the surfaces and the air in their homes.
Founder James Dyson said Asians had an “extraordinary enthusiasm for technology that works”, and 73 percent of the company’s growth in 2017 had come from the continent.
Dyson’s tech appealed to Asia’s fast-growing middle classes who appreciated products such as its premium-priced hairdryers, he said.
The company, which said its turnover rose 40 percent to 3.5 billion pounds, had also been lucky to ride the crest of a wave of concern about pollution in the home with its air purifiers, he said. Shanghai has more of its environmental control products than anywhere else in the world.
But vacuum cleaners, which Dyson revolutionised with his bagless dual-cyclone machines in the 1990s, remained the biggest source of profit.
“Our whole emphasis on vacuum cleaners has changed from mains-powered vacuum cleaners that you pull and push - cylinders and uprights - to battery vacuum cleaners,” he told reporters.
“We have ceased development of mains-powered machines because we see the future as being entirely in battery machines.”
The company, which produced its 100 millionth machine in 2017, said it was investing 2.5 billion pounds in technology, with much dedicated to research at its campus in Malmesbury in southern England.
Last year it said it had been working on building an electric car for the past three years.
Dyson said he had chosen the battery for the vehicle, although he would not disclose what it was, but had not yet selected a manufacturing site.
“England is a possibility ... but we are also looking at the Far East,” he said. “I think we’ve got to make the car where we make the battery.”
The plan to launch by 2020 was on track. “We are well down the road,” he said.
The company develops it technology in-house, and Dyson said he was not keen to work with any major tech platform, although some of its robotic products could be controlled by Amazon’s Alexa digital personal assistant.
“I’m tilting more towards our products doing what they do by themselves automatically rather than requiring control,” he said, adding that the company never shared any data.
Dyson, who was a prominent supporter of Britain leaving the European Union, also said he did not see the point of Britain tying itself into a customs union with the EU.
“I would like us to strike trade deal with anyone who wants to strike a trade deal with us: Australia, India, Canada, Japan, China and so on,” he said.
$1 = 0.7263 pounds Reporting by Paul Sandle Editing by James Dalgleish